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Brat. It is so, indeed: (2) he is no less than a stufft man: but for the stuffing,—well, we are all mortal.
Leon. You must not, Sir, mistake my Niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet, but there's a kirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man govern’d with one: So that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now! he hath every
month a new sworn brother. Mel. Is it poflible?
Beat. Very easily possible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Mej. I see, Lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beat. No; an he were, I would burn my Study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? is there no young squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil ?
Mel. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beat. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner caught than the peitilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio, if he have caught the Benedick; it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be curd.
Mej. I will hold friends with you, Lady.
(2) he is no less than a stufft man: but for tbe fluffing well, we are all mortal.] Thus has this pallage been all along stop'd, from the very first edition downwards. If any of the editors could extract sense from this pointing, their fegacity is a pitch above mine. I believe, by my regulation of the stops, I have retriev'd the poet's true meaning. Our poet seems to use the word Stuffing here much as Plautus does in his Mostellaria: Act 1. Sc. 3. Non veftem amatores mulieris arrant, sed vestis fartum.
Beat. No, not 'till a hot January.
Don John. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble : the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and
you encounter it. Leon. Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfore should remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly: I think this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me fo. Bene. Were you in doubt, Sir, that you ask'd her?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick; we may guess by this what you are, being a man: truly, the lady fathers herself; be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
Bene. If Signior Leonato be her Father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, aś like him as she is.
Beat. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior BenediEt; no body marks you.
Bene. What, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beat. Is it possible, Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it, as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bene. Then is courtesy a turn-coat; but it is certain, I am lov'd of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.
Beat. A dear happiness to women; they would else have been troubled with a pernicious fuitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that;
I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man
Bene. God keep your lady ship fill in that mind! ro
Beat. Scratching could not make it worse, an ’owere such a face as yours were.
Bene. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
Beat. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
Bene. I would, my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer ; but keep your way a God's name, I have done.
Beat. You always end with a jade's trick; I know
Pedro. This is the sum of all: Leonato, -Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick, -- -my dear friend Letnato hath invited you all ; I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month; and he heartily prays, fome occafion may detain us longer: I dare fwear he is no hypocrite; but prays from his heart.
Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn. Let me bid you welcome, my lord, being reconciled to the prince your brother; I owe you all duty.
John. I thank you; I am not of many words, but I
you of old,
Leon. Please it your Grace lead on?
[Exeunt all but Benedick and Claudio.
Bene. I noted her not, but I look'd on her.
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should
Claud. No, I prythee, speak in fober judgment.
Bene. Why, i'faith, methinks she is too low for an high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a A 5
great praise; only this commendation I can afford her, that were the other than she is, she were unhandsome ; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou think it, I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik’n her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?
Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into; but speak you this with a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter? come, in what key shall a man take you to go in the song?
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that I ever look'd on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter; there's her Cousin, if she were not posseft with such a Fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of December : but I hope, you have no intent to turn husband, have you ?
Claud. I would scarce truit myself, tho’I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be
wife. Bene. Is't come to this, in faith? hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again ? go to, i' faith, if thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays: look, Don Pedro is return’d to seek you.
Re-enter Don Pedro and Don John. Pedro. What secret hath held
you here, that
fol.' low'd not to Leonato's house?
Bene. I would, your Grace would constrain me to tell.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio, I can be fecret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; but on my allegiance, mark you this, on my allegiance:---he is in love; with whom? now that is
part : mark, how short his answer is, with Hero, Leonato's fhort daughter.
Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord, it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be fo.
Claud. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.
Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the Lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my Lord.
Bene. And by my two faiths and troths, my Lord, I speak mine.
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion thac, fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.
Pedro. Thou wait ever an obstinate heretick in the despight of beauty.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.
Bene, That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible bald- sick, all women shall pardon me; because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, (for the which I may go the finer,) I will live a bachelor.
Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. With anger, with fickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love : prove, that ever I lose more blood with love, than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the Sign of blind Cupid.
Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument. Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat, and